Friday, December 6, 2019

Garden Friday

 It's Garden Friday once again,
and we're enjoying brisk days under a Carolina Blue sky.

The cover crops sown a couple of weeks ago
have started to fill in the two new raised beds.

This Winter Mix should enable the soil to soak up some nutrients
and be ready for planting in the spring.
It also helps to keep the soil warmer, so sowing can occur sooner.
It's wonderful to have something colorful out there 
during the bleaker time of year.

The leek are off to a sllllooowww start,
no doubt hindered by our cooler-than-normal daytime temperatures. 

 One ray of hope springs forward in these seed trays 
that were all but forgotten under the lorapetalum bush.
With the sporadic dousing we've been getting,
it's no wonder that they have done well with absolutely no help from me.
The anticipation of fresh greens is highly motivating!
Perhaps I will even start some seed trays inside
and see what happens.

Being gifted these bushel baskets,
I feel the obligation to do something creative with them,
even if it's just to transplant my salad greens into them!
I love me some old baskets!

Yesterday, I took advantage of having a day off
to harvest the remaining loofah on the trellis.
Many of them are squishy and nasty looking,
which is what I've been told is expected.
They will be left to dry out and be ready for processing
in the next couple of months.

Check out the cool wagon I found on CL for $20!
It has come in mighty handy these last few weeks.

Bless its heart,
the allysum is still blooming
and providing pollen for the bees that are hearty enough to withstand our weather.
What a treat to still have such glorious color!

Plans this weekend include lighting up the garden
for the holidays.
It's a new venture, so it should be fun.
Let's hope we have enough extension chords to get the job done!
Enjoy your weekend, y'all!

Tuesday, December 3, 2019

Going Local-Small Business Saturday

downtown Lincolnton

 We ventured out this past Saturday
to the Lincoln County Small Business Expo.
Our intention is to more fully support locals in their pursuits.
After scouting out the treats for sale near the entrance,
we made our way into the newly renovated Citizen's Center.

Crafters, candymakers and artisans from Lincoln County
and a few surrounding towns filled the auditorium with treasures.

There are always jewelry makers at craft shows,
but I'd never before seen handmade leather earrings.
The creator stated that she prefers them herself,
as they are much lighter on the earlobes.

 Several vendors showcased their knitting talents.
Knit caps, ear warmers and hair accessories were easy to find.

 Hand-crafted cards, stationary and wooden trinkets
filled this booth.

 Who needs paint ball?
These marshmallow shooters are pain-free,
literally a blast, and the ammo is edible!

 This display caught my eye with all of its color and holiday cheer.
The purveyor is new to the craft show scene,
having just relocated here from Wyoming.
She will no doubt do quite well,
from the looks of her offerings.

 Crafty Me Gifts had an assortment of festive holiday decor.
One of these twine trees may have made it home with me.

 Lori Rapp can be reached at 704-740-5917.

 Another local crafter provided an unusual display of measuring spoons.
Wouldn't this be perfect for the wine lover in your life?
Crafts by Betty is Betty Hovis' brainchild.
Her contact number is 704-813-7007.

 One of the unique components in Cinnamon Ridge Soaps
is hemp oil.
Their creations contain none of the harmful ingredients found in commercial soaps.
This business is a labor of love and it shows.
Here's their website.

 I was pleasantly surprised to find the vintage carolers at the event.
And imagine my astonishment in recognizing one of the singers
as our very own President of the Master Gardeners group here in Lincoln County!
(Marcia is second from the left.)

 A few food trucks were found outside,
but with several more stops,
we didn't dare dally.

This will be a yearly tradition for us,
as we enjoy seeing what goodies can be found
right here in our home town.
Go local!

More in Our Going Local Series:

Black Mountain Chocolates
Grace Tree Farm 
Grier Truck Museum
Mundy House Christmas 
Red Wolf Farm

Thursday, November 28, 2019

Happy Thanksgiving!

Without a doubt,
my very favorite holiday of the year.
Although, I have been better
about being more thankful each and every day
for that which I have been blessed.
I hope you and yours are counting your blessings together.

God bless us, every one.

Tuesday, November 26, 2019

Powder Laundry Soap

The switch was made years ago to fashion my own cleaners.
With C's numerous sensitivities,
it made sense to do away with the chemical-laden cleaning agents,
and build a repertoire of safer products.
It was also a bit harder then to find products that were cruelty-free.
It's been one of the most effortless changes in our lifestyle.
Along with vinegar, baking soda and lemon juice for general cleaning,
familiar elements can be used to supply your household
with a fantastic laundry soap.
This recipe was featured on 
"Off Grid with Doug and Stacy",
which can be found here.
I find myself watching their videos,
always learning something new.

 This easy-to-make laundry soap 
contains simple ingredients that are easily recognizable.  
Along with being aware of the origin of our food,
it's important to me to create personal care and cleaning products
that are safe, cruelty-free, and earth-friendly. 
With just two common components,
this recipe is a snap to put together.

 The soap can be scented with your choice of essential oils,
although eucalyptus is a favorite of mine.
This recipe replaces the popular "Zote" soap concoction,
as I really felt the need to remove animal products from my cleaners,
just a personal choice.
The Kirk's castille is made with a few simple ingredients,
is cruelty-free and contains no sulfates.
Check out their line of soaps here.

Streamlining my household management is a constant intention,
and with this uncomplicated solution, it's smooth as silk.

 Homemade Laundry Soap
(Doug & Stacy)
2 C washing soda
1 bar Castille soap
essential oils (10-12 drops)

Grate bar soap and mix with washing soda.
Add essential oils to your liking.
Use 2 Tablespoons per load
(Washes 12-15 loads)

Friday, November 22, 2019

Garden Friday-Using Cover Crops


These two new raised beds were created earlier this month.
Having a little more space to add crops come springtime
will be so exciting!
For now, these dormant beds will be sown with cover crops,
to ensure they start off right. 
Last year was the first winter
I'd ever sown cover crops.

Where these raised beds now stand
used to be several raised rows,
another first-time venture.
Although I did have some success with the raised rows,
I think that having beds higher up 
will make it easier to tend as I get older. 
Last year, I sowed the cover crops  in them around the same time,
but our conditions were very different.
This year, we've already had a couple of freezes,
so I'm not sure if it will affect the germination and growth
of the cover crops.

Two different cover crops were obtained from Sow True Seed in Asheville.
They are one of my go-tos for quality seed
and great customer service.

 This winter mix contains several crops,
including winter rye, crimson clover and hairy vetch.
Also known as "green manure",
cover crops can nurture the soil in a variety of ways.
Fostering beneficial insects below the soil while
preventing erosion and boosting the nutrient content
once it is turned into the soil in the spring,
are a few of the blessings that cover crops bring.
They also keep weeds at bay,
thereby making the soil primed for planting in spring.

This is white clover that I'm hoping to use
to create a meadow on the side of the house.
Attracting pollinators to the vegetable garden
has been something I've been working on for a year or so.
It started with creating a pollinator bed in the front yard
the first year we lived here.
Then, last year, we repurposed an old sandbox frame,
to fashion a pollinator bed smack-dab in the front corner
of the veggie garden.


The meadow area I will be looking to establish,
is just behind the vegetable beds,
in an area that slopes toward our leaf mulch pile
and open-air composting system.
This expansive area would be a wonderful place
to experiment with native wildflowers.
The white clover will be introduced during this first phase.
The bonus is that it would cut down on our mowing zone
and save us quite a bit of labor.
It sounds like a win-win to me!

Tuesday, November 19, 2019

It's a Date!

 Over the last couple of months,
I've been searching for a better way to eat.
Considering that I've been a fairly "clean" eater for decades,
it surprised me to find that I could tweak my diet even more.
With the recent elimination diet that my naturopath guided me through,
I found that giving up nuts, seeds, sugar and all things gluten was pretty tough.
Although I'm still avoiding gluten anything,
I have been able to add back a substantial list of items 
that came up negative on my sensitivity panel.
Gratitude prevails for being able to once again 
consume cocoa, coffee, nuts, seeds and certain grains (not wheat).

The book featured here has been a Godsend.
Dana Shultz is a master at what she does,
which is create gloriously simple recipes
for those of us who find ourselves wanting to eat better,
but still harboring cravings for traditional comfort foods.
If you are at all interested in improving your health
without having to sacrifice taste and ease of preparation,
please run, don't walk, to your nearest book source,
and pick up her fabulous cookbook.
You can also check out her amazing website:
Rest assured, her repertoire consists of savory dishes
as well as sweet treats. 
Most of my cookbooks were given away years ago,
but this is one I will be purchasing anew.
The recipes are simple, have few (real) ingredients,
and most take under 30 minutes from start to finish.
I look forward to exploring these recipes.
In fact, until recently, I've been absolutely burned out
with regard to cooking or baking.
This book and website have motivated and excited me
to try new ways to enjoy old favorites.

Medjool dates

I've watched my sugar intake for years,
allowing myself a handful of dark chocolate daily,
knowing that my consumption was far less than most folks.
I'm a label reader, and quite particular about what I buy.
Being able to scratch cook has always been my goal,
and it's the only way I can imagine feeding my family.
One fruit I had never tried before was dates.
Since creating some of the concoctions on Dana's website,
I've discovered what a fantastic sugar substitute they make!
Dates are a great source of fiber, rich in calcium and phosphorus,
and are more easily processed by the body than standard sugars.

Does this mean I'll never again eat sugar?
Nope, but it will no longer be a daily staple.

This is the latest sweet treat I've made using dates.
The recipe can be found here.
I actually used less dates than suggested when I made it,
and it was still mighty sweet.
It's not clear if it's because I've been sugar-free
for going on 7 weeks, or if the dates are just that sweet!

I hope you'll check out these resources.
Dana has found her calling.
And I'm so grateful she has.

Friday, November 15, 2019

Garden Friday

Welcome back to a (frozen) Garden Friday!
Autumn color surrounds us,
but winter temperatures have been sneaking in.

 The poor birds can't even get a decent drink of water,
with the birdbath iced over.
We have been vigilant in keeping the seed and suet feeders full
for our fine feathered friends.

Black-eyed Susan vine

 Some of the flowers we've been enjoying for weeks
have bowed out for the season.
With temperatures plunging overnight
into the 20's, they didn't stand a chance.

The loofah has seen better days.
It's a champion at enduring the scorching heat of summer,
but the cold knocks it for a loop.

Thankfully, there are a handful of crops that don't mind the cold one bit.
The garlic is still doing fine
with its thick bed of straw to insulate it.

 The strawberries are planted in the straw bales,
so they are as snug as bugs in a rug.

 I was a bit worried about the snap peas,
but so far, so good.
Straw was also used here to help keep them a bit warmer.

 The alyssum just keeps on blooming,
taking me by total surprise.
I'm grateful that any pollinators that may still be around
have something wonderful to visit.

 The camelia on the north side of our house
(our backyard of sorts),
is just about to burst into bloom.
What a treat to have color in the dead of winter.

One of our dearest neighbors has been busy raking her drive
and gifting us with the leaves.
These will be mulched with the mower 
and added to our leaf mulch pile.

There isn't a whole lot going on in the garden right now.
Sometimes I wonder what happened to fall?
Next week is supposed to warm up a bit,
and it will lend itself well to getting a few projects started.

Here's hoping for sunny skies and 60 degree days!